Anjalee Khemlani, NJBIZ
Gov. Chris Christie called for more psychiatric beds in February, a need that has mushroomed from closures of psychiatric hospitals over the years and has been exacerbated by the opioid epidemic.
These beds are increasingly important as the state battles the addiction crisis, searching for more medical facilities to handle proper detoxification and treatment.
Christie called for nearly 900 new beds in the state, a number which some have said may not be attainable.
Related legislation approved in the full Assembly is now making its way through the state Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblymen Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) and Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), as well as Assemblywomen Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) and Valeri Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood), calls for a real-time system to track availability of beds in the state.Read more
Wimberly, Lagana, Danielsen, Oliver, Vainieri Huttle, Mazzeo, Downey & Mukherji Bill to Establish 'HOPE Initiative' to Combat Opioid Epidemic Clears Assembly
Legislation Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Joseph Lagana, Joe Danielsen, Sheila Oliver, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Vincent Mazzeo, Joann Downey and Raj Mukherji sponsored to establish a public awareness campaign to educate New Jersey residents about the dangers of heroin and opioid addiction gained approval from the General Assembly on Wednesday.
The bill (A-1875) would require the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services to establish and oversee a public awareness campaign that would be known as the "Heroin and Opioid Drug Public Education (HOPE) Initiative."
"In roughly five years, New Jersey has seen an increase of more than 200 percent in the number of admissions to licensed or certified treatment programs for prescription drug abuse and a 700 percent increase over the last decade," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The HOPE Initiative will give this crisis the focus it deserves in this state and educate residents on how to help themselves and loved ones who are addicted to heroin and opioids."
"Heroin and opioid addiction crosses racial, socio-economic and professional boundaries," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We must raise public awareness of the heroin and opioid addiction rapidly affecting all of New Jersey's communities."
"With the HOPE Initiative awareness campaign, we can help residents help themselves and their loved ones suffering from addiction," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). "We also can dispel commonly accepted myths and stereotypes of drug addiction and lead people to treatment facilities enabling them to rebuild their lives."
Lagana, Pinkin, Vainieri Huttle, Caride, Caputo & Wimberly Bill Enlisting the Aid of Physicians in the Conversation with Teens on Opioid Addiction Becomes Law
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Nancy Pinkin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Marlene Caride, Ralph Caputo and Benjie Wimberly enlisting the aid of healthcare providers in discussing the dangers of certain opioid medications prior to issuing a prescription to patients who are minors was signed into law on Monday.
"We've seen the devastation the opioid crisis has created in many of our communities," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This discussion needs to be had as early as possible and from as many angles as possible to reach our young people before it's too late."
The new law (formerly bill A-3424) would require health care professionals with prescribing authority to discuss the addiction potential of any opioid drug that is a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance prior to issuing a prescription for the medication to a patient who is under 18 years of age. The prescriber would be required to have this discussion with the patient, along with the patient's parent or guardian, if the patient is not an emancipated minor.
"The battle against opioid addiction needs to be a continued and coordinated one from all aspects of society," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "We've passed legislation to empower law enforcement and first responders to aid in the crisis. Now it's time to enlist the aid of doctors to help reinforce the message on the dangers of opioid and other prescription drug addictions."
The prescriber will specifically be required to discuss the risks of developing a physical or psychological dependence on the medication and, if the prescriber deems it appropriate, any alternative treatments that may be available.
"Sadly, sometimes the last person a teenager wants to listen to is their parents," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "So maybe if they hear from professionals, first hand, who have witnessed the devastating ramifications of addiction, perhaps it will be a much-needed dose of reality."Read more
Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight
Decision part of larger battle to stem tide of opioid addiction in New Jersey
State officials have doubled the reimbursement rate New Jersey will pay to doctors who provide a treatment that has proven particularly effective with many opiate addicts, the latest adjustment to an ongoing reform of how the government pays for behavioral health services for some of its poorest, most vulnerable patients.
The Department of Human Services, which oversees mental health and addiction programs, told provider organizations last Tuesday that psychiatrists could collect twice as much as they currently do for offering Medicaid patients medication management — a process of regular outpatient checkups for patients who are taking prescription drugs to quell cravings and withdrawal feelings related to opioid use.
The change also supports the state’s growing effort to tackle New Jersey’s epidemic of opiate addiction and came on the same day that Gov. Chris Christie announced the Department of Health would kick off a process to add nearly 900 psychiatric hospital beds, an effort to address a capacity crunch that experts said presents a major hurdle to those seeking to get clean.
The news of a higher medication-monitoring rate was welcomed by nonprofit provider groups who have said larger Medicaid payments are essential if they are going to stay solvent and continue to deliver housing, day programs, and other services to those with mental health and addiction issues. State officials issued a new payment schedule last summer, as part of the payment-reform process, but have tinkered with several key rates after providers raised concerns that the changes would leave them short.
Debra Wentz, president and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, called it a “great step forward,” and thanked staff at the state’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services for working with her members to protect these safety-net services and those they serve. She said the change “was the result not only of NJAMHAA and many of its members making their voices heard and echoed by other stakeholders, but by those voices being listened to and acted on by our colleagues at the various state offices.”Read more
Assembly Panel Advances Conaway & Vainieri Huttle Measures to Help Tackle Opioid Crisis in New Jersey
One Measure Will Create Bipartisan Joint Legislative Taskforce to Map Out a Blueprint for Treating & Decreasing Addiction
An Assembly panel on Monday approved two legislative measures sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Valerie Vainieri Huttle designed to aid the comprehensive effort underway to tackle the opioid crisis in New Jersey.
One measure (ACR-225) would create a Joint Legislative Task Force on Addiction Prevention and Treatment and the other measure (ACR-223) urges the federal government to ease restrictions that currently prevent Medicaid from covering certain inpatient and outpatient treatment and rehabilitation programs.
The sponsors noted that the State Commission of Investigation recently reported that New Jersey is in the midst of a prescription pill and heroin abuse epidemic, noting that there has been a sharp increase reported in the number of admissions to substance abuse treatment centers and in the number of deaths attributable to drug abuse and addiction, with particularly large increases associated with opioids, including prescription pain medications and heroin.
"In order to address New Jersey's addiction issues in a meaningful way that will have a substantive impact, we need to examine both the systems supporting the treatment of substance abuse and misuse and also the obstacles to the efficient and effective treatment of those mental health conditions," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "My hope is that this taskforce will lay out a blueprint for the appropriate actions to promote enhanced prevention and treatment services for those suffering from addiction."
"Substance abuse and addiction have a far reaching impact on society as lives are lost, opportunities are squandered, potential goes unrealized, and families are torn apart," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "It has also placed a strain on law enforcement and threatened a public health crisis due to the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C among intravenous drug users. We need this taskforce here and now to examine this issue broadly and create a working plan for us to improve lives and stem addiction rates."Read more